2021 CincyParks Wildlife Management Controlled Bow Hunting

Close Up Photograph of A Black Eyed Susan

2021 CincyParks Wildlife Management Controlled Bow Hunting

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Hunting Season Begins Saturday September 25. Interested in learning about Controlled Bow Hunting in Cincinnati Parks? Check out this article.

Autumn is one of many people’s favorite season. Cooler temperatures, drier weather, changing leaves and fewer insects make it a fantastic time to enjoy a nice hike on the trails. Autumn allows for other forms of outdoor recreation too, such as controlled bow hunting.

One of the greatest challenges throughout our park system is the loss of young tree seedlings and spring wildflowers, due to the overpopulation of white-tailed deer. This loss alters forest composition and hinders the long-term regeneration of future forests. As a result of this changing ecosystem, all the wildlife is negatively impacted.

White-tailed deer are considered a keystone species, known for affecting other organisms in an ecosystem. They are browsers, meaning they eat all forms of plant material including seedlings, leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, bark, young trees and branches. Without the presence of keystone predators, like mountain lions, wolves, and black bears, the uncontrolled overpopulation of deer threatens the natural environment. Left unchecked, the forest becomes over-browsed of favorite deer species, such as oak trees, degrading forests for park patrons to enjoy now and into the future.

Controlled Bow Hunting

The Cincinnati Parks Division of Natural Resources is responsible for the conservation of park forests, trees and greenspaces for future generations to enjoy. This includes active management of the deer herd in select parks since 2007.

Parks’ controlled bow hunting program has become very popular and well established with an exemplary safety record. Each season helps to improve upon the next. The program is based on the recommendations of Ohio state wildlife officers and years of field observation by Parks staff and outside experts.

Without proactive measures to control these environments our forests would eventually lack large established trees that serve as a foundation for native plants and wildlife to flourish. This is why similar programs operate in park systems throughout the country, including the US National Parks, Ohio State Parks and the Great Parks of Hamilton County.

Outreach & Park Access

The program garners significant interest from park users. Over the years, staff have continuously addressed safety, humaneness and effectiveness. One of the most common complaints has been about park and trail closures.

As is done each year, prior to the start of hunting season Cincinnati Parks provides outreach to community members who use parks to seek feedback and provide a list of parks and maps of controlled bow hunting zones. In addition, all controlled bow hunting zones are marked with signage.

Public comments and concerns are always appreciated, considered, and utilized to implement new strategies to improve park user experience. Implementing a 30-foot controlled bow hunting buffer zone around trails within hunting zones allows the trails to safely remain open to hikers passing through designated hunting zones.


The program has been well-established for 14 years with an outstanding safety record thanks to an annual mandatory skills test each hunter must pass in order to qualify for the program. Beyond this, all qualified hunters receive educational training delivered by Parks DNR staff on the Park Board’s hunting regulations and safety requirements.

Hunting season starts September 25th , 2021 and ends February 6th, 2022. Cincinnati Parks is proud of the success achieved in improving our forests, is grateful for the deer management volunteers, and looks forward to another successful season.

There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure you stay safe while hiking:

Be Aware. Whenever enjoying our parks, be mindful of your surroundings, including the other recreational activities taking place in the forest. If you do not feel comfortable hiking in a hunting zone,  review each park’s trails and maps section to view the hunting areas.

Be Seen. Bright colors are encouraged all year round to improve visibility and make it easier for rescue personnel if visitors become lost, sick, or injured while on trails. When entering a controlled bow hunting zone, it is important to wear bright colors, especially true during sunrise and sunset, since you’ll be less visible and have less visibility in the dim light.

Be Smart. Stay on marked trails. All hunting zones have been set at least 30 feet (the distance a bow can travel) away from marked trails.

Dogs on leash. Dogs are permitted on most trails while on a 6 ft leash. For their safety and the health of our forests, keep your dog on a leash at all times when hiking the trails.

Click here to find a full list of parks and maps of controlled bow hunting zones.